Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cost of jet-setting on way up

City airport fee to jump to $25

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Jetting out of Winnipeg will leave your wallet a little lighter. Beginning April 1, 2013, the Richardson International Airport's improvement fee will jump $5 to $25.

"The airport improvement fee goes directly toward the planned infrastructure improvement over the next decade," said Christine Payne of the Winnipeg Airports Authority.

Payne said the extra money will not go toward the newly constructed terminal, which was completed in 2011, but toward improving the airport's runways, lighting and equipment.

She added the Winnipeg Airports Authority is a community-run organization and no longer receives government subsidies.

"A lot of people are under the assumption that there is government money in an airport authority," Payne said, "but there is no government funding at any level."

Walter Rodrigues, a travel consultant at Bestway Travel Agency on Notre Dame Avenue, said the fee increase will give Winnipeggers one more reason to cross the border to catch a flight in North Dakota.

"Customers will take it and bear it to a point," he said, "but it's just one more avenue for airlines in Grand Forks to increase their business."

Rodrigues said it's also important for travellers to know where their money is going, as taxes and hidden fees are often buried in the ticket price.

"The public needs to be aware that most of these fees are not for the airlines, they're for the airports," he said. "And now that we have a new airport, I guess there are going to be new costs."

And while Rodrigues understands the cost of doing business, he said he doesn't think travellers are the ones who should have to foot the bill.

"It's not fair," he said. "If everyone keeps increasing their fees, it adds up."

The last time Winnipeg's airport improvement fee went up was Jan. 1, 2008, when it climbed to $20 from $15.

The following year, Toronto's Pearson International Airport was the first in Canada to raise its fee to $25.

In March 2013, Calgary International Airport will bump its fee to $30, making it the highest in the country.

"Winnipeg is definitely in line with all of the other large airports in Canada," Payne said.

ryan.bowman@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 29, 2012 B1

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Updated on Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 9:11 AM CST: adds photo

9:13 AM: adds fact box

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